Why Indian tech startups are so excited about the UAE’s tech boom

16th September 2020 (Last Updated September 17th, 2020 09:34)

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Why Indian tech startups are so excited about the UAE’s tech boom

The relationship between the UAE and India is a storied and symbiotic one. Both countries benefit from a strong trade relationship that extends from imports and exports to talent and a rich cultural exchange.

More recently, however, this has expanded into bilateral investments in the technology space, building up digital ecosystems and futuristic, knowledge-based economies. The latest example is Mubadala’s $1.2 billion investment in Jio Platforms. Jio, a Reliance Industries subsidiary, is a next-gen tech platform that provides affordable digital services across India; at the last count, the platform had more than 388 million subscribers.

The mutually beneficial trade relationship is a continuously booming one, with the UAE being India’s third highest-spending trade partner, after China and the US. According to the Indian Department of Commerce, the UAE-India import and export spend for 2018 was estimated at $30.30 billion. And with the UAE only a three-to-four-hour flight away, it’s a natural and easy step for ambitious startups looking to go global.

Recognising the importance of being a hub for Indian tech entrepreneurs is something that the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular takes seriously, says Khaled Al Qubaisi, CEO of Aerospace, Renewables & ICT at Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala)  – a global investment firm with a diversified portfolio around the world, including a range of future-centric businesses including tech.

“India has been on our radar for a long time,” he explains. “Its large, youthful population, and digitally savvy population make it an ideal location to find investment opportunities. As the technology ecosystem matures and grows, we want to be a part of that journey.

“India today is at a stage where the digital groundwork is being laid out for the next decade and beyond,” he continues. “This is where Abu Dhabi and companies like Mubadala come in. Besides growth capital, our network of partners, synergies within our portfolio and access to global markets can help unlock tremendous growth. We will continue to explore partnerships in India, but also welcome startups at earlier stages to come and set up in Abu Dhabi and leverage the opportunities being created by organisations like Hub71.”

Indian tech startups

CEO of Aerospace, Renewables & ICT at Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala) Khaled Al Qubaisi

Hub71 is Abu Dhabi’s tech ecosystem, powered by Mubadala and backed by strategic partners such as Microsoft and the Abu Dhabi government, to push the Emirate into becoming one of the world’s most advanced hubs of technological excellence and innovation – and it’s getting noticed in all the right places, by all the right people.

“For startups from India and around the world, there is no better time than now to have a base in Abu Dhabi, a global city which is going through a massive digital transformation and is invested in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship at rapid speed,” says Al Qubaisi. “Furthermore, Abu Dhabi has a government that prioritises innovation, knowledge, technology and is building a future-proof economy.”

Hub71 also provides tech startups with access to partners like Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Techstars, Microsoft, Shorooq Partners and more. Indian companies joining Hub71 today are vying to be a key part of that growth story.

“With Hub71, Abu Dhabi has already created an entrepreneur-friendly ecosystem that makes it the ideal launch pad for startups,” says Al Qubaisi. “ADGM, Hub71’s strategic partner, provides tech startups with open, flexible, transparent and cost-effective regulatory frameworks, 0% corporation and income tax, as well as 100% ownership and repatriation of profits.

Hub71 also offers an attractive incentive program for global startups with the added benefits of faster access to capital, easy access to regional and global markets, diverse international tech talent and a vibrant community.

Another benefit of joining the Hub71 ecosystem is that Indian startups have easy access to their home market, as well as other markets, especially across the Middle East, Africa and the rest of Asia. The high quality of life adds to the value of Abu Dhabi, making it an all-encompassing proposition for startups seeking a springboard for global growth.

And of course, with so many Indian expats calling Abu Dhabi home, it’s easy to find the food, cinema, religious worship and cultural activities that they’d find back home.

The UAE’s journey into the future is well underway, and the government has shared its ambitious investment plans to continue building world-class R&D centres, digital infrastructure, 5G networks and cloud technology, thereby setting the right foundations for tech growth.


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How Abu Dhabi is attracting top tech startups from across the world

Named after the UAE’s formation in 1971, Hub71 is a tech ecosystem located in Abu Dhabi that brings together several key elements for startup success: access to capital, access to market opportunities, access to talent and a favourable business environment.

Hub71 has unique selling points that have made investors and entrepreneurs worldwide take note. Its rapid growth is one proof of its success and within 12 months of launch, it has had 348 applications from startup founders in 47 different countries, showing how much demand there is for holistic tech ecosystems that support startups in their early stages.

With 75 startups in its vibrant ecosystem today, Hub71 has introduced new programs for startups, corporations and investors. Being sector-agnostic has meant that healthtech startups rub shoulders with big data companies, with cross-sector innovation and transferrable skills shared ad hoc or more formally, via webinars and meetings.

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